photography education

Protect Your Schedule Protect Your Life {Photography Education and Resources}

By Kacey Luvi

When I first started a photography business 10 years ago, I was a poor, single grad

school student with very few bills, very little responsibility and a TON of time on my

hands. When an inquiry would come in for photos, I would nearly let the client

completely dictate when their session would be. I would give a few suggestions like

time of day, but otherwise it was in their hands. After all, I no other commitments

outside of school and all the reasons in the world to make some money, sharpen my

skills and build by portfolio. Once I got married, I had to think about my husbands

schedule, our dog, the lighting AND the clients requests, but I was still willing to be

flexible to make any session happen. Then kids happen and the world is on your

shoulders. I not only had the responsibility of wifing and dinner on the table, but wiping

butts, cleaning the house, feeding mouths all day long and trying to balance emails,

orders, editing and scheduling the next photoshoots.

There are 1,840,734 ways to run a photography business, so I always advise to grab

ideas from a variety of business owners that you respect and begin to mold a plan and

schedule that works best for you and the needs of your family.

First question. What is your goal? Define it and be specific. Are you looking to get

out of your current corporate job and take on photography full time? Or are you a mom

looking for a fun hobby to get you out of the house and do something creative. Do you

want to make a little extra spending money, provide a healthy second income to the

family, or be the sole bread winner? These are the first questions you need to ask

yourself when it comes to your goals because they will determine how much TIME you

put into the business.

Now, rather than trying to speak to every variety of photographer, I will just highlight the

WHY behind my business, what my goals are and how I schedule out my year all in the

name of being a wife and a mom FIRST. My personal goal is to be at home with my

kids, present and as undistracted as possible. My conflicting “goal” is to be

recognized, to be “busy” and to look successful. So many of us moms are DYING to

find something OUTSIDE the home to provide us with value. I believe being a stay-at home

mom is a high calling and a tough battle. Hear me, it is EASIER TO WORK

OUTSIDE THE HOME THAN INSIDE THE HOME. Of course women want a fun,

creative job outside the house.. it’s EASIER than kids! But hear me louder here… there

is nothing like being a mom. It is a job that NO ONE can do as well as you. Your kids

will always benefit more having YOU as their primary caretaker. They will be blessed,

peaceful and filled with love for you. Let’s not be too quick to waste this precious time

on building an empire outside our homes when our biggest and most significant

ministry is WITHIN our homes. This is my why behind scheduling the way that I do. You

don’t have to be a mom to do it this way… shoot, you don’t have to do it this way at

all. But this is what has brought my family peace and my marriage connectedness, all

while spending a limited amount of time away from the home doing something I am

SUPER passionate about. Therein, my personal goals have been met.

Next question. What does SUCCESS mean to you?

Is it recognition and accolades? Is it being in high demand? Is it reaching 100k

followers on Instagram? Is it making a 6-figure income? You must ask yourself this

question so you can reach true CONTENTMENT while you are on your business

journey. We can be so easily robbed of joy (and creativity) if we are constantly

discontent with where were are. While a little fire under your butt drives us well, there is

something to be said about a peace in your heart knowing that your priorities are truly

in order. For me, if it means I book less and only commit to 1-2 speaking engagements

per year, I have upheld my first commitment to put my family first. The minute I get

swept up in becoming too busy, my family suffers and we all feel it. So I took a leap of

faith at the beginning of 2015 and decided to be staunchly exclusive with my

availability, for the protection of my schedule, all the while bringing in the same income.

Maybe new seasons of life will be different, but for now while my babes are young, this

is what it looks like.

I book 1-2 SATURDAYS a month and 10 day trip to the midwest in the summer.

Perhaps 1 Saturday is a wedding (I only talk about 5 weddings per year) OR a full day

of mini family sessions and the other Saturday is filled with 3 sessions of high school

seniors. I choose the Saturdays ahead of time and post on my social media sites what

days I am available for the upcoming months. This is where the discipline comes in for

me. As my own boss, and the holder of the key to my schedule, I used to bend over

backwards to accommodate people’s schedules. I would be out shooting 7 days a

week if someone asked me to and were willing to show me the money. It became this

weird issue of finding value in how “in demand” I was and how much money I could

make. I was getting worldly success mixed up with spiritual success. Is it possible to

have both? Sure! You just have keep priorities in their proper place.

When I received an inquiry, I respond with the investment PDF and the dates and times

I have available. If they are not available when I am that month, we look to the next

month or the month after. I’ve had very dedicated clients wait for 6 months to get in

and those that are not as interested in me (or on a deadline) get referrals to

photographers I trust. We take a non-refundable deposit up front to secure their

booking and the remaining balance is due at the time of their session. This helps

tremendously with avoiding last minute cancellations when you have already arranged

for childcare and/or turned away several other inquiries that would have liked that spot.

When we travel to the midwest, we book about 10 days of consecutive sessions at 3

per day. It’s just flat out nuts, but it works. This is, by far, our most profitable season as

all of our work is consolidated into those 10 days. I bring my kids, my mom to watch

my kids while I shoot, but still make time to play between shoots, eat dinner with them,

bathe them and tuck them into bed. This is my 10th annual summer “tour” I like to call

it and my daughter’s 5th, so it’s become quite a little family tradition. I love that my kids

can watch me work and see that I LOVE what I do and set an example for them in

ethics.

Another way I protect my schedule is in regards to outside services. Whether I am in

Scottsdale or the midwest, I outsource my editing, admin, album design and order

processing. These are things that I am NOT great at AND total time eaters. The last

thing I want to do is be a stay-at-home mom that is a slave to my computer. It kind of

defeats the purpose. If you are in ANY way feeling overwhelmed with your business as

a mom, please do yourself (and your kids) a HUGE favor by looking into outsourcing

the things that can be done by others. You don’t have to be making a 6-figure income

to afford outsourcing, you just have to figure out what you can give to make it worth it

for you and find someone willing. Enough of my long-windedness.. my prayer for

moms across the nation trying to juggle so many different jobs remember that FIRST

and foremost, your role as a mother is the most important and being a successful

photographer comes second. Protect your family, protect your marriage. Be excellent

in all that you do, just do it in order.

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM FOR NEWS, PHOTOS, UPDATES and of course, my family

@kaceyluvi

FB: Kacey Luvi Makeup + Photography

Twitter: @kaceyluvi

Periscope: @kaceyluvi

Snapchat: kaceyluvi

10 Tips for Email Marketing Success w/ Teri Fode of Voice Your Brand

Are you using the amazing marketing tool that is completely and 100% controlled and owned by YOU? If not, I highly (emphasis on highly) suggest you add this to your "do it now for the success of my business" list because it's the single most important thing you can add to your marketing success. Especially with the news that Instagram is now moving to an algorithm feed.

If you have an email list of your clients, you know the power of the inbox. There are many fabulous user-friendly email services out there: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, A Weber, Mad Mimi, and more.

Assuming you have your email service set up, here are 10 tips for elevating the success of your email campaign:

1. WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME? People's inboxes are deluged with more than they care to deal with. Handing over their email address is the last thing they want to do...unless it's something they are sincerely interested in. Your emails must offer something of value to your clients.  Make sure you've planned out your email campaign to include subjects that will interest them

2. PERMISSION: This may seem obvious, but make sure that you aren't just adding people to your email list. Legally they must give permission via a signup form on your site or a permission to have you add them by hand (it's always best to have them do it using the form on your site). And besides, this ensures that you are building a quality list of people that want to receive your information.

3. WELCOME EMAIL: The first email your list should receive from you should be a very inviting, welcoming note that includes 3 parts: 1) Welcome 2) Here's what to expect --- tell them how often you send out emails 3) a small tidbit of information that is valuable to them.

4. AUTO-RESPONDERS: This is a series of emails that can be set up in your email system that go out automatically when someone signs up. The first would be the Welcome Email above; thereafter, you can set up a pre-written letter that goes out 1 week later with a value point and then a 3rd letter that goes out a week after that with additional info. These auto-responders can be set up for a series of emails over a determined course of time with value-packed info going out to your list!

5. KEEP IT PERSONAL: Your list service allows you to select a default code that inserts your list names by first name. For Mailchimp, it's *|FNAME|*. Of course, you need to set up your sign up forms to request first names.

6. FIRST LINE WITH A PUNCH: The first line in the inbox must be of interest and must be catchy. Of course, it also must tie into your subject matter. But keep in mind that you are competing with hundreds of other emails in the inbox of your client.

7. BRAND A SERIES: The #1 thing I teach in my workshop is to plan your email campaign 1 year out! This is a series, a campaign, a planned year of info to be sent to your client base. Of course, this does take an investment of time, but it's very well worth it. TIP: You should have 2 types of email campaigns for 2 segmented lists: Your "VIP List" (current/past clients) and your "GENERAL" List (customers stopping by your site, interested in your services as a potential client).

8. BE QUICK AND BE DONE: This is a biggie. [Intro it. Say it. End it.] Because people are busy and they need to get to your point quickly in order to move on. But make it amazing so that they know when they see your name pop up on their mobile phone inbox email, they don't want to pass you up. Because your quick. And your good.

9. GET PERSONAL: Believe it or not, one of the reasons people subscribe to your email list is they want to get to know you better! Be personal, share tidbits, be real, be you. Give a few "tips about me" that you might not share anywhere else online! This is your personal email list, after all.

10. EVERYONE LOVES A PRESENT: Give a freebie gift in your email once in a while---or more often. It can be an eBook of ideas to decorate, a pdf of makeup tips, etc. Point is, people love surprises with value.

Teri Fode is the owner of Teri Fode Photography with a specialty in fashion-inspired senior portraits and their families. She is also the creator of VoiceYourBrand.com, where she teaches the professional photographer how to voice his/her "it factor" to the world with style, through intentional and focused marketing strategies.

 

Recruiting Seniors: 5 Quick Tips of What Not To Do

Recruiting seniors, What Not To Do.

In hindsight, there’s always a list a mile long of things we wish we would of thought of, considered, look into when starting!  "If we had only thought about this, maybe we would be here?"  Do you ever feel like that?

Early on, we knew we wanted to photograph seniors, but we weren’t always sure how to reach them.  It had been 10+ years since one of us had been in high school and we didn’t really know any high school age kids, well we did, but we weren’t particularly close to them and didn’t exactly know how to connect with or draw them in.

I, Tash, had just come out of working in a non profit position that helped at risk youth get their GEDs and job training skills, but those young adults were NOT our demographic and senior photos were the furthest thing from their mind.  The past work I had done was not going to lead to our ideal clientele. 

Over time,  we found our way, our niche and our strategy and it has worked for us, but not without making a few mistakes along the way.

Below, I want to share the Top 5 mistakes we made when we first started marketing to seniors.

Mistake #1: Failing to understand our demographics. 

When we started marketing to seniors, we had no sense of the high school senior of 2010.  Everything we did to attract seniors was based on our own experience as high school seniors, 10-12 years earlier.  We had no sense of why seniors were getting senior pictures, or even the reason why seniors in our area would not only get pictures, but also value the senior portrait experience.  Its impossible to market to a client if you aren’t completely sure if they are buying what you are selling – and if they do, what kind of experience they are willing to invest in.   I think as entrepreneurs we feel because we see a solution to a problem that others should to, but some folks may not even be aware that there is a problem in the first place.  The same goes for senior portrait experience.  In our community, there was a lack of urban focused and inspired senior portrait work – we saw that and felt we were the solution, but if our seniors didn’t see it, there was no one to care about the solution to the problem.

An example: early on, when we were developing our street team program, we accepted boys.  In theory that sounded great, until we realized that 1 in 10 high school boys wanted to have their senior pictures taken.  We filled our senior model program with half boys who neither valued nor even cared to participate in the experience.  This was both wasted energy, which cost us money and didn’t generate any leads for the future of our business.

Mistake #2:  Relying on social media to be the strategy.

Social media is an incredible tool.  At the time, when we were actively pursing seniors, only Facebook and Myspace existed.  Today there is Twitter, Snap Chat, Periscope, Pinterest and Instagram – all with enough strategy and muscle behind them can be used to draw attention to even the most elusive seniors.   Over the years, we put all of our eggs into the Facebook basket, until two seasons ago we started to realize that we were losing reach and that the majority of our seniors either didn’t have FB or hardly ever ventured on.   We thought this was just a Facebook issue, but the truth is, this is a social media issue.  Every senior has their top three social media platforms that they love – a combination of a mix of all of them- TRUST ME, I have asked and every time I ask I always get a mix of Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or Instagram, Snap Chat, Facebook or Facebook, Twitter and Snap Chat.  Depending on the season and the senior, you get different responses and takes on what is most popular.

What I wish I had done differently is established forms of contact separate from social media – annual events, monthly newsletters catered to young people, contests and giveaways, community service activities where young people are consistently in attendance, opportunities to touch in face to face.  Social media is a wonderful tool, but I find our greatest impact comes from face time, it is where young people get a chance to interact with us and our brand and really make a connection to who we are and our experience in a real way. 

Mistake #3:  Failing to consider the parents (who have the money)

Let’s just keep in 100.  In very rare cases are our seniors actually footing the bill for senior pictures.  So as much effort as we put into marketing to and appealing cool to the senior, we need to also be considering the parent/ grandparent who might be paying for the service.   Our first couple of years was about appearing “cool” to the senior and really drawing them in, but we failed to really make a connection to what this experience felt like for the parents who were paying for and trusting us to provide an experience.  It was only after we became parents ourselves, and we took on more of a mentorship role with our street team girls that we really came to value the photographer/parent relationship, which is almost more important then the photographer/senior relationship, because that parent is the one that is actually keeping you in business.  They are also the mouthpiece that is going to sing your praises and spread your brand to their friends who are also looking for quality experience.

Mistake #4:  Collateral – doing things the way others did

We learned early on that just because so and so does it this way, doesn’t mean that it is what is good for our business.  We can get so caught up in watching other photographers carry out their business/ programs a certain way and try to copy and paste that strategy to our own business, never considering their goals, their demographic or even their vision for their business, which could be completely different from yours.

Every product, every piece of gear, every action, every ________ insert the magical unicorn that might change your business, isn’t going to change YOUR business and it is so important that you really grow comfortable with understanding your goals, your mission and your people.

Example:  Rep cards.  Rep cards seem so simple and matter of fact and necessary.  It’s a no brainer that you would order rep cards for your business because you have reps and that’s what you do, duh right??   Well, even thought we felt it didn’t fit our business model and was a waste of money, we felt the same way and spent HUNDREDS of dollars wasting time on rep cards that were never handed out, never returned back to us and found their way in the garbage can most days.

What did work for us??  T-shirts.  A cool. Hip, fashion forward t-shirt that generated conversation every time one of our reps wore it.  Something they were proud to wear, something that connected back to our brand!   Needless to say, we do not do rep cards and we make sure every single #intsenior has our brand to wear in a tangible way, whether through t-shirt, back pack, temporary tattoo, bracelet or a framed picture of our logo!  That makes more sense for our brand.

Mistake #5:  Giving them everything up front instead of the alternative

 Whether a client or a senior model- not trusting our product and giving it away for virtually free without considering the cost or our worth.

With our senior models, in the beginning, we would give everything up front – the shoot, the prints, the digital files in hopes that it would motivate them to perform for us.

For our clients, we had a session fee, and it included everything and the kitchen sink and ALL the food in the refrigerator.   Running our business this way cost us not only time and money, but our own confidence in the work we produced and the money we could make.

Once we got smart and realized we could charge more, do in person sales and offer less but still provide an incredible experience – we moved to that and haven’t looked back!

This all might seem simple to you, but it was such a mystery to us when we were getting started. 

We lacked knowledge of our client based and what was really going to make a difference in hooking them and engaging them with our business so that we could start to take senior pictures!

Over time, by applying what we learned above, we started to see results and we hope that you do too!

If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please feel free to leave them in the comments and we will be sure to reply back. 

 If you need additional resources to work with your high school seniors, please head over to the shop starting July 15th, 2016 ( We are launching a shop ya'll) and check out our many educational guides that will be available for sale!

XO

 

WPPI Senior Shoot Out, Las Vegas, NV

Are you a senior photographer? Are you going to WPPI 2016? Wanna come hang with me and my crew?

Join Christina RamirezTrue Moua of True Moua Photography and Spanki Gring Mills of Spanki Mills Photography for a senior shoot out at the incredible Nelson Ghost Town on Sunday, March 6th.

If you have difficulties with posing, natural light and composition, this would be great for you!

The best part is we will have SMALL groups with instruction from the 4 of us guiding you through it all with multiple beautiful senior models.

This is also an amazing location to have photos from in your portfolio, no seriously, it's freakin' AMAZING (broken down trucks, cars, and buses, barns, a piano in the middle of the desert, a plane crash site, and more! Check out their photos here: Nelson Ghost Town).

We will be shooting from 1-5pm and having a classroom setting from 5-6 for you to ask us ANYTHING! Transportation from the Las Vegas strip will be provided. smile emoticon

Please tell all of your friends, we would love for you to join us!

Click on the link below for pricing info and to sign up!

Tag your friends and spread the word!! heart emoticon

http://www.eventbee.com/v/wppiseniorshootout

TURN IT UP Conference - FREE Online Conference Event

Finally a conference you can go to in your PAJAMAS (without spending one penny)!! Are you ready to increase your bookings and profits for 2016??

Register FREE at - http://www.turnitupconference.com/

The TURN IT UP online conference is coming to YOU! It is all online and it is FREE!! Wedding & Portrait Photographers - Get Excited!!

SHARE this post with the hashtag #turnitup2016 and#theacademytoday for your chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes!

What a great lineup of speakers: Dane Sanders,Zach & Jody PhotographyIke and Tash Photography and MotionJustin & MaryKevin Kubota PhotographerAlycia White Photography,Katelyn James PhotographyAmy & Jordan PhotographyTwo Mann StudiosCole's Classroom,Kenny Kim PhotographyMontana Dennis

 — withAmy DemosKevin KubotaJordan Demos